Author Topic: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives  (Read 2514 times)

Offline 0118401

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Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« on: December 11, 2010, 06:46:46 am »
The Psychotherpist and Buddhist Rob Preece in his book The Wisdom of Imperfection says 'Many Westerners explore spiritual traditions because they seek a solution to their psychological malaise. However, it is evident from my work as a psychotherapist that these "spiritual" solutions do not address the root cause. Many people on the "spiritual" path have more of a problem with their basic identity in the world that they do with their relationship to the divine.

This is something I realised myself recently through my own experience. Having done some research, I discovered that my experience is not uncommon and several authors have written books about this phenomenon. I get the feeling that my teacher and sangha may not be prepared or sufficiently skilled to talk about this. I think this may be rooted in the misconception that this type of reflection is necessarily self-cherishing and egoistic. This isn't true if these issues are distorting the way you practise and the reason you want to address them is so that you can practise in an authentic and well-grounded way.  

How can you practice the Bodhisattva way of life if for example you don't have self-acceptance and compassion towards yourself? To attempt to do this is a form of 'spiritual bypassing'. Since the teachings themselves don't seem to provide appropriate guidance and assume a certain level of development which in itself is quite significant, is the only solution to consult people such as Rob Preece who seem to have a deep understanding of these issues?  
« Last Edit: December 11, 2010, 06:49:37 am by 0118401, Reason: typo »

Offline ABC

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2010, 07:49:43 am »
Dear friend

Thank you for starting this important thread.

Rob Preece's intention is to point to something more basic than 'the ultimate' and 'the divine'.

For me, Rob Preece is even referring to something more basic than self-acceptance and compassion towards oneself.

Rob is referring to one's 'basic identity in the world', which seems to point to how we relate others & how we define our obligations towards others.

For me, 'basic identity in the world' falls on the level of morality & of social relationships.

For example, in Buddhism, there is the Sigalovada Sutta.

Here, the Buddha begins his discourse discussing personal ethical behaviour and ends the discourse by listing the six relationships or 'six directions' of an individual & the associated personal responsibilities.

In my opinion, from a Buddhist perspective, what Bob Preece is referring to as 'basic identity in the world', is best found in the Sigalovada Sutta.

With kindness

ABC

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« Last Edit: December 11, 2010, 07:54:44 am by ABC »
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline 0118401

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2010, 09:27:51 am »
Thank you for your reply ABC. Your explanation of what you think Rob Preece meant by 'basic identity' is really useful, I had not thought of it like that  :wink1: 

The point I really want to emphasise in this thread is that the Buddhist path doesn't seem to consider the psychological, emotional and develomental aspects of the process of spiritual awakening. This would appear to be a particular issue for the Western psyche and the frequent deep parental emotional wounding, lack of self-worth and general neurosis that do not appear to be such a problem in the east.

The Buddhist path seems to assume a certain level of development has already been reached. I have found this realisation rather uncomfortable as I previously thought the Buddhist path was a complete method of self-transformation. However, what I'm discovering is I need to do some work on other aspects of my mind using a different approach. I know that my own unresolved issues are distorting my practice and I can see how in some ways my practice has become part of my pathology in exactly the way that Rob Preece describes. I can't seem to completely shake of the feeling that I must have lost faith, despite the fact that I know I haven't. I feel that actually this is a deepening of my spiritual path.

Do people agree that the path doesn't consider these aspects of awakening and where does one find the necessary guidance?

Offline ABC

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2010, 01:31:19 pm »
This would appear to be a particular issue for the Western psyche and the frequent deep parental emotional wounding, lack of self-worth and general neurosis that do not appear to be such a problem in the east.

Thank you friend for your kind response. I agree, without doubt, that where there is an issue, such as deep parental emotional wounding, self-acceptance, love-kindnesss & compassion towards oneself are essential.  

However, my former response was intended to apply to the kinds of unresolved issues you have mentioned as examples.

There are role identity questions, such as: "If I am a parent, what are my responsibilities towards my children?" Or "if I am a child, what are my responsibilities towards my parents?" Similarly, "If I am a man, what is are responsibilities towards women?" Or "if I am a woman, what are my responsibilities towards men?" "If I am an employer, what are my obligations towards my employees?" Or "if I am an employee, what are my obligations towards my employer?" Or "If I live on this Earth, what are my responsibilities towards this Earth?"

For me, I can only share what has helped me in my life.

When I did not have any clear views about what parent responsibilities are towards children, it was difficult for me to understand, reconcile with and/or have a clear perspective towards my parents.

In my opinion, we when battle with developing self-acceptance & self-worth, we do so because, if our parents have acted inappropriately in their role identity, we are still accepting their inappropriate actions as valid. We continue to affirm & validate the inappropriate actions of our parents.

But when we develop a clear understanding of the parental role identity, we can then objectively weigh up the actions of our parents and have the confidence to understand: "My parents were wrong here; my parents were right here; my parents did harm here; my parents did good here, etc..."

It is the same between men & women. We can carry around wounds & blame for years without understanding what is right & wrong conduct in a relationship between partners. For example, we spent our years in relationship spending nights out with the boys, coming home drunk, shouting at the wife, expecting her to cook for us, etc, and then, after she leaves us, we spend our years wounded & blaming her, without ever understanding it was inevitable that she would leave us.

Parenting issues are similar. We can develop attitudes & views towards our parents without ever understanding the basic role responsibiliities of parents.

With kindness

 :dharma:

« Last Edit: December 11, 2010, 01:57:26 pm by ABC »
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2010, 08:27:54 pm »
Thank you for starting this important thread.
I also think that this thread is important. I feel I should organize my thoughts better before making any substantive contribution, but I look forward to read what other people have to say.
:lipsseald:
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2010, 04:54:43 am »
The Psychotherpist and Buddhist Rob Preece in his book The Wisdom of Imperfection says 'Many people on the "spiritual" path have more of a problem with their basic identity in the world that they do with their relationship to the divine.

Or is it more that the urge to practice a spiritual path results from an unwillingness to assume a worldly identity in the first place?

Spiny

Offline 0118401

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2010, 12:53:13 pm »
My teacher said that he would never tell a practitioner what to do and agreed that it was an individual path. He appreciated the psychological, emotional and developmental issues that pratitioners may have, but felt that the Buddhist path offered all that was necessary to deal with these.

He said that it it probably just a question of being honest with ourselves, but appreciated that this may be very difficult. He suggested that analysing these issues and finding out what mental factors were involved in them may be helpful. I was advised that if my wisdom was telling me to do something different then it was important to follow that wisdom, if it took me closer to enlightment, then that was wonderful.

I think I agree with my teacher that ultimately the Buddhist path offers all that is required to deal with such issues. However, I feel it may sometimes be more effective to apply other techniques, such as integrating a more psychological perspective with Buddhist practise in the manner suggested by Rob Preece.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2010, 07:52:08 am »
My teacher said that he would never tell a practitioner what to do and agreed that it was an individual path. He appreciated the psychological, emotional and developmental issues that pratitioners may have, but felt that the Buddhist path offered all that was necessary to deal with these.

This does raise some interesting questions about the way that Buddhist practice goes beyond these psychological, emotional and development issues.  Is it that we need to spend time dealing with these issues to establish basic psychological health before starting on the serious business of developing insight?  Or could a preoccupation with this kind of development distract us from Buddhist practice?

Spiny

Offline 0118401

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2010, 01:54:28 pm »
This is the crux of the issue for me. My wisdom is telling me to do some work to enable a better state of psychological health, which I feel will help me practise more effectively. With greater self acceptance, I think I can lose some of the intensity in my practice which seems like its preventing me from really settling into my meditation.

However, I think it is crucial to consult somebody like Rob Preece to enable integration with Buddhist practise. I guess it may take some time and energy away from formal practice, but would be time well spent, and with the correct motivation could potentially become part of Buddhist practice.

I guess whether this becomes a distraction is also dependent on the nature of the personal issues and what it is we are doing about them. A long course of intense psychotherapy has greather potential for distraction than say reading one of Rob Preece's books and incorporating some of the information into ones practice.

Offline katersy

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2010, 05:41:06 am »
I agree that both aspects are important - the psychological and the spiritual. I don't think one can be truly healthy without the other. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form and all that...

I would recommend Jack Kornfield's book After the Ecstasy, the Laundry for some really interesting and useful reading on this subject...

"Everything has been figured out, except how to live."

"She believed in nothing; Only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist."

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2010, 02:50:57 am »
I agree that both aspects are important - the psychological and the spiritual.

I think you're right, but I'm still unclear what the difference is between "psychological" and "spiritual", and indeed what "spiritual" actually means...

Spiny

Offline katersy

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2010, 05:54:54 am »
I agree that both aspects are important - the psychological and the spiritual.

I think you're right, but I'm still unclear what the difference is between "psychological" and "spiritual", and indeed what "spiritual" actually means...

Spiny


well yeah, same here really. maybe psychological = personal,  and spiritual = universal  ?
"Everything has been figured out, except how to live."

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Offline katersy

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2010, 05:56:44 am »
I agree that both aspects are important - the psychological and the spiritual.

I think you're right, but I'm still unclear what the difference is between "psychological" and "spiritual", and indeed what "spiritual" actually means...

Spiny


well yeah, same here really. maybe psychological = personal,  and spiritual = universal  ?


not forgetting, of course, that this is very likely to be just us humans trying to impose a dualistic framework on something that isn't dualistic at all. the psychological and spiritual are just labels and there's really no clear dividing line...
"Everything has been figured out, except how to live."

"She believed in nothing; Only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist."

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2010, 06:05:43 am »
well yeah, same here really. maybe psychological = personal,  and spiritual = universal  ?

Possibly, but then what does "universal" mean in this context?  In a sense all Buddhist practice is psychological, so I'm still not sure.  Personally I've never liked the word "spiritual", which has become so vague as to be meaningless.

A related question is "What's the difference, if any, between doing MBSR and doing Buddhist practice?"

Spiny

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Psychological, Emotional and Developmental Perspectives
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2010, 10:51:55 am »
In a sense all Buddhist practice is psychological, so I'm still not sure.
I have been taught that your psychology is your samsara. So from that perspective all Buddhist practice is anti-psychological.

Quote

Personally I've never liked the word "spiritual", which has become so vague as to be meaningless.
My own private definition is: that which continues to be important about life even after you die.

Quote
A related question is "What's the difference, if any, between doing MBSR and doing Buddhist practice?"
How important is stress reduction after you die?

However back to the original question of the thread; it seems that if we have problems with our psychology that it can make Dharma practice frustrating, nonproductive, or even counterproductive. I think HHDL has said that one has to be reasonably well balanced in order to start a fruitful practice (or something like that so don't quote me). However as the Buddha has pointed out samsara is never perfect. So at some point if we want to go beyond our ego we have to say "that is good enough" and start.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2010, 12:29:27 pm by santamonicacj »
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

 


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